Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference this afternoon on Rikers Island, the City’s main jail complex, announcing the recent end of punitive segregation for 16 and 17 year old inmates. The City has created two new housing units as alternatives to punitive segregation; a “Transitional Repair Unit” and “Second Chance Housing.” Joined by Department of Correction (“DOC”) Commissioner Joseph Ponte and other DOC officials, de Blasio briefly visited a group of adolescent inmates in Second Chance Housing before the press conference.
On Topic Q&A:
Questions during the on topic portion of the Q&A included the mayor’s conversations with inmates he spoke with during his visit, his prior visit to Rikers Island, how DOC will deal with problematic inmates without the use of punitive segregation, the U.S. Attorney’s view of these changes, criteria for inmates entering the newly created units, where the idea for these changes came from, DOC staff reaction to these changes, whether changes are planned for dealing with adult inmates with mental illness, the condition of the physical plant of Rikers, how attacks with “human waste cocktails” are recorded and whether DOC is concerned that installing cameras will somehow increase such attacks, whether any form of isolation will continue to be used with 16 and 17 year old inmates, out-of-cell programs for inmates in the new housing units, the recommendation of DOI against Commissioner Ponte’s choice for chief of department, the overall increase in jail stabbings and slashings this year, the effect of these programs on 18 year old inmates and how long the “journaling” program has been in place.
Off Topic Q&A:
Questions during the off topic portion of the Q&A included Governor Cuomo’s announcement today that New York State will not permit fracking, Mayor de Blasio’s scheduled meeting with the NY Justice League, whether Mayor de Blasio thinks he is able to unite the City and how New Yorkers have received him, President Obama’s announcement of moving to normalize relations with Cuba and Mayor de Blasio’s own trip to Cuba.